Monash University
19323069 Alex Burns PhD Thesis - Final.pdf (2.21 MB)

The Development of Strategic Culture in Terrorist Organisations

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posted on 2020-04-20, 05:59 authored by ALEXANDER GEORGE BURNS
Terrorism studies has an enduring puzzle: how do terrorist organisations grow, persist and survive? Using the Japanese new religion Aum Shinrikyo as a case study, this thesis posits that three causal mechanisms—cultural transmission, social learning, and folklore—affect terrorist organisations’ survivability, success, or failure. Original contributions to knowledge include a new analytical theory of strategic subcultures in terrorist organisations, new tests using the qualitative methodology of process tracing, and a new causal analysis of Aum Shinrikyo’s initiatory, religious sub-system (which facilitated founder Shoko Asahara’s paranoid delusions, leadership elite deviance, and follower indoctrinability). A new research agenda is also identified.


Principal supervisor

Peter Lentini

Additional supervisor 1

Luke Howie

Additional supervisor 2

Zareh Ghazarian

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Social Sciences (Monash Australia)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts